CLERKENWELL & ISLINGTON GUIDES – WALKS AND EVENTS JUNE 2024

Welcome to the June newsletter of walks across Clerkenwell and Islington, and we have a wide variety of walks again this month:

The first two walks take place today, Sunday the 2nd of June:

ART DECO ARSENAL: SPORT AND TRANSPORT, MOVIES AND MOVING

A guided walk looking at a cross-section of architectural styles from the interwar years. Obviously, we’ll visit Arsenal FC’s iconic Highbury ground, but we’ll also look at and talk about places of entertainment, companies that strived to keep up with the zeitgeist, well-proportioned residential properties and a renovation scheme that was never completed. You’ll hear about architecture, design, typography and letterform, and we’ll also peek into some interiors. The tour lasts just under two hours and finishes a stone’s throw from Finsbury Park station.

This walk takes place n the 2nd of June at 11:00 and can be booked by clicking here.

ART DECO HOLLOWAY: ARCHITECTURAL DELIGHTS OF THE 1930S

Holloway’s main shopping area has a wealth of Jazz Age and Streamline Moderne architecture simply hiding in plain view. In the 1930s many new buildings were constructed here, and some well-established companies either updated their façades or rebuilt completely. Visit a cross section of architectural styles from this period – places of entertainment, commerce, manufacture and health, as well as residential developments, both private and LCC. You’ll also see the lights in the form of neon signs which have intriguing stories behind them. The walk lasts just under two hours and ends a few minutes’ walk from Holloway Road station.

This walk takes place on the 2nd of June at 14:30 and can be booked by clicking here.

HOLLOWAY’S HEYDAY – THE OXFORD STREET OF THE NORTH

A time-travelling guided walk taking us back to when Holloway was the go-to shopping zone for the upwardly-mobile Victorian middle classes. Find out how this area quickly evolved to offer North London’s finest selection of drapery, finery, furnishings and tailoring, as well as beautiful restaurants and top-end entertainment, all accessed by excellent wide roads and frequent transport services. Hear about, and see evidence of, large Victorian emporiums and department stores, variety theatres, tea rooms, trains and trams.

This walk takes place on the 4th of June at 11:00 and can be booked by clicking here.

GHOSTSIGNS OF ISLINGTON: BYGONE BRANDS AND BUSINESSES

Ghostsigns are the remnants of old advertising still clinging to the walls above our busy streets advertising products or services that are no longer available. There are some excellent examples to be found around the Islington Green area. Most of the signs we’ll look at will be of the hand-painted variety, as per the example shown here which is an adaptation of one of the signs you’ll see on the tour. You will also see other types of old signage such as low reliefs, forged metal and carved and gilded shop fronts. Learn about the unusual businesses, people or products behind the signs; from vets to vegans, rubber to metal and cars to chemists.

This walk takes place on the 6th of June at 18:30 and can be booked by clicking here.

GEOFFREY FLETCHER’S ISLINGTON

Join this walk, led by Jonathan Wober of London On The Ground, to discover some of the Islington sites Geoffrey Fletcher captured so lovingly and to learn about the area’s heritage.

Best known for his 1962 book ‘The London That Nobody Knows’, Geoffrey Fletcher recorded the London that he feared was vanishing in the 1960s, in his sketches, paintings, books and weekly column in the Telegraph. This walk, in association with the London Metropolitan Archives, marks the 20th anniversary of his death on 22 June 2004.

The walk will start outside Angel station and last approximately two hours. Please be prepared for all weathers!

This walk takes place on the 8th of June at 14:00 and can be booked by clicking here.

EVOLVING ISLINGTON

In 1086 the Domesday Book reported that Islington contained just 27 households. Today its quarter-of-a-million residents live in an area that boasts world-class cultural venues but also less green space than any other London borough.

The story of how Islington developed over the centuries provides many tales of social, cultural and political history. The walk takes in many of central Islington’s most fascinating sites – some well-known and others even locals may not be familiar with.

You’ll see a Tudor house that’s been in the same family since the 16th century, the first church bombed in World War II and some of the pioneering homes built in the early 20th century as Islington’s population boomed. You’ll also find out how the world-famous Union Chapel got its name and why you should never graffiti in a library book… The tour lasts about 2 hours and starts at Highbury & Islington station.

This walk takes place on the 12th of June at 18:30 and can be booked by clicking here.

CANONBURY TOWER TOUR

Canonbury Tower was built in the late 16th century and is a rare survivor of Tudor domestic architecture in London. The Tower was added onto a manor house built in the early 1500s as the country retreat of the Canons of St Bartholomew’s Priory in Smithfield.
On this 90-minute tour you’ll see the existing Tudor interiors and hear about the many notable characters associated with the building. Over the centuries these have included Thomas Cromwell of Wolf Hall fame, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, Francis Bacon and the writers Washington Irving (Sleepy Hollow) and Oliver Goldsmith (The Vicar of Wakefield). You’ll also have the chance to climb up to the rooftop which affords wonderful views over London in all directions.
Canonbury Tower is owned by the Marquess of Northampton and has been in the same family since the 16th century. All visitors are guests of the seventh Marquess, Spencer Compton. Islington Guides offer exclusive small group tours twice a month on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings. Booking link is for multiple dates.

This walk takes place on the 14th of June at 11:00 and can be booked by clicking here. There are also dates in following months for the tour of Canonbury Tower which can be booked at the same link.

ST MARY ISLINGTON – CHURCH AND TOWER TOUR

St Mary’s, Islington on Upper Street has played a central role in the history of Islington for a thousand years. During this time several different churches have stood on the site, leaving an eclectic range of architectural styles.

On this 90-minute guided tour you’ll learn about the 12th-century Norman church and its 15th-century medieval successor. In the 18th century it was completely rebuilt, lasting until 1940 when St Mary’s became the first London church to be destroyed in World War II. Only the tower and steeple survived the bomb; the main body of the church was rebuilt in 1956, a fascinating example of post-war reconstruction and design.

As well as providing a glimpse into the history of St Mary’s and how it has influenced Islington today, you’ll also have the opportunity to climb the 120 steps to the top of tower, giving you a bird’s-eye view over London.

This walk takes place on the 15th of June at 14:00 and can be booked by clicking here.. There are also dates for the walk in the following months which can be booked at the same link.

THE ELEPHANTS HAVE ESCAPED – OH WHAT A CIRCUS!

Retrace the path of two Victorian circus elephants who, in 1884, ran through the streets of Dartmouth Park, ending trapped but unharmed in an N19 front garden near Archway. It’s a delightful route starting near Parliament Hill Fields and ending between Archway and Tufnell Park stations. We will take time to admire what the elephants missed as they charged past, such as well-to-do Georgian houses, charming backstreets and Victorian shops. Hear the amusing newspaper reports of the time and learn about the real ‘Greatest Showman’, railways, conservation, filming locations and a naughty monkey.

This walk takes place on the 16th of June at 11:00 and can be booked by clicking here.

CULTURAL CLERKENWELL

Since the middle-ages, when religious pageants were held on the banks of the River Fleet and entertainers performed at the annual Bartholomew’s Fair, Clerkenwell has been a part of London steeped in cultural history.

Theatre, literature, music, film, architecture, food, sculpture and visual art spanning the last 900 years are all covered as we wander the streets and alleys of this atmospheric neighbourhood.

In addition to following in the footsteps of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, along the way you’ll hear how William Morris, Agatha Christie, Vladimir Lenin, William Hogarth and Benjamin Franklin have all left their mark on Clerkenwell.

In London’s oldest parish church you’ll see a striking sculpture by one of Britain’s most controversial artists. Down hidden alleyways you’ll find out about one of London’s great 17th-century theatres, a pioneering architectural partnership and an unsung champion of classical music. You’ll also see why this historic area has been a location for some of Hollywood’s biggest movies. And you’ll get the chance to see close-up the site that gave Clerkenwell its name.

This walk takes place on the 28th of June at 15:00 and can be booked by clicking here.

ISLINGTON’S BIG SCREENS

A stroll through more than 100 years of Islington cinema-going; all between Angel and Essex Road stations. You’’ll encounter Victorian showmen, architectural wonders and tales of bad behaviour in the stalls. Come to discover hidden gems and hear what a night ‘at the flicks’ was like decades before multiplexes.

In addition to such landmarks as the Screen on the Green, you’ll see some buildings that were once cinemas as well as a few intriguing places where all trace of their cinematic past has vanished.

This walk takes place on the 10th of July at 18:30 and can be booked by clicking here.

ALL AROUND THE HOUSES (ESSEX ROAD TO REGENT’S CANAL)

Part of the proceeds from this walk will support the Arlington Association’s fund-raising for local charities and to maintain Arlington Square’s garden.
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Keep it to yourself, but the streets between Essex Road and the Regent’s Canal form one of Islington’s hidden pockets of tranquility and beauty.

See a microcosm of Islington’s history, heritage and housing in this area’s architecture, waterways, gardens and pubs and discover its close ties to the ancient City of London.

London On The Ground’s guided walk in this area will let you in on its secrets. Highlights include:

– Islington’s early story from the Domesday Book to the 1500s.
– Mid 19th century terraced houses and social housing from the 1800s to the 2000s.
– A Victorian church and almshouses with historic ties to the City of London.
– A school with links to Pink Floyd and a mural commemorating the New River.
– The Regent’s Canal.
– An award-winning public garden square maintained by local residents.
– A community pub, where the tour will end (with a drink for those who would like one!).

Start: Outside Essex Road station, Canonbury Road N1
Finish: The Hanbury pub, Linton Street N1

The walk will take between 90 mins and 2 hrs. Please be prepared for all weathers!

“A thoroughly enjoyable tour.”
“… a lovely walk, definitely recommended.”
“Great walk, well structured, paced and delivered.”

This walk takes place on the 18th of July at 18:00 and can be booked by clicking here.

CLERKENWELL: LONDON’S FIRST SUBURB

Monks, nuns, courthouses, rookeries, radicals, distillers, pubs, crafts, trades and architecture

On this circular walk from/to Farringdon Station, now one of the best connected stations in all of London, you will:

• Learn about Clerkenwell’s Norman and medieval monastic heritage.
• Discover Clerkenwell’s tradition for radicalism, dissent and protest.
• Understand its growth from rural monastic quarter to the first area to be swallowed up by creeping urbanisation.
• Hear about Clerkenwell’s history as a centre for makers of clocks, watches, jewellery and furniture; for brewers and distillers; and for crime and vice.
• See the site of the historic court houses of the lost county of Middlesex.
• Admire architecture from the 16th to the 21st centuries in a visually attractive village-like area.
• Have a rare opportunity to see the Clerk’s Well that gave the area its name.

“Thanks for a great walk.”
“a very enjoyable walk with Jonathan around Clerkenwell”
“enjoyed the informative dialogue and the hidden places visited”

The walk lasts approximately two hours. Please be prepared for all weather conditions!

Start: Farringdon Station forecourt (opposite Castle pub, Cowcross Street/Turnmill Street)
Finish: Farringdon Station

This walk takes place on the 21st of July at 14:30 and can be booked by clicking here.

Our next newsletter will be on the first Sunday in July. New walks are always being added to our website, and our full calendar of walks can be found here.